Answer: The basic principle concerning such games and sports is that they are permissible if they serve an innocent purpose, as was referred to by Ibn al-Qayyim in his book al-Faroosiyyah and as was mentioned by Shaykh Taqiy al-Deen Ibn Taymiyyah and others. If that is done as training for jihaad and attack and retreat, or for physical fitness, or to ward off chronic diseases and strengthen the spirit, then it comes under the heading of permissible things, if the one who does it has a sound intention. In all cases it is essential that there be no harm caused to bodies or minds, and that it does not lead to the grudges and hatred that usually occur between players, and that it does not distract them from things that are more important, and that it does not prevent them from remembrance of Allaah (dhikr) or prayer.
But whoever thinks about these sports as they are played nowadays will find that they are involve evil things which dictate that they should be disallowed, in addition to the fact that it is in the nature of the game to create factionalism and stir up resentment and hatred between the victors and the losers, this team and that team, as is quite apparent. They are also accompanied by physical danger for the players as the result of collisions and fisticuffs. Games hardly ever end without one of them breaking a bone or being injured or losing consciousness. This is why ambulances are always present.
The games also continue during the times of prayer, which results in people not praying or offering the prayer late.
The players also uncover their ‘awrah, which is forbidden. The man’s ‘awrah is the area from the navel to the knee. But you will find that their clothes end at mid-thigh, and some of them are shorter than that. It is well known that the thigh is part of the ‘awrah because of the hadeeth:
“Cover your thigh for the thigh is part of the ‘awrah.”[/i] [Narrated by at-Tirmidhee (2797) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaanee][/quote]
And the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) said to ‘Alee (رضي الله عنه):
[hadeeth]“Do not uncover your thigh and do not look at the thigh of anyone, living or dead.” [Narrated by Abu Daawood (4015)]
And Allaah knows best.
End quote from Fataawa ash-Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Ibraaheem, vol. 8, Q #1948.
Playing football nowadays is accompanied by reprehensible things which mean that playing it should be disallowed. These things may be summed up as follows:
- It is proven to us that play continues during the times of prayer, which results in the players and spectators missing prayers or prayers in congregation, or they delay performing prayers until the time for them is over. Undoubtedly any action that interferes with performance of prayers on time or leads to missing prayers in congregation with no valid shar’i excuse is haraam.
- The nature of this game leads to factionalism, stirring up fitnah and hatred. These results are the opposite of what Islaam promotes of tolerance, friendship and brotherhood, and cleaning hearts and souls of hatred, resentment and grudges.
- The game involves physical danger for the players as a result of collisions and injuries. Usually the players do not end the game without some of them falling on the pitch unconscious or with broken arms or legs. Nothing is more indicative of that than the fact that there must always be an ambulance present throughout the game.
- The purpose behind allowing sports is to make people become physically active and to train them for fighting and to ward off chronic disease. But playing football nowadays has no such aim. As well as the things mentioned above, it is now also taking people’s money for false purposes, let alone the danger of physical injury and the generation of hatred in the hearts of players and spectators, and the stirring up of fitnah. It has even gone so far that some spectators attack some players, which could go as far as murder, as happened in a match a few months ago. This alone is sufficient reason to disallow it. And Allaah is the source of strength.
If it is done in an organized manner [as in the clubs] it seems that it should be banned altogether, because people becomes deeply involved in it and that prevents people from remembering Allaah, and it more akin to gambling. They call it “sport” but it is just a game, and matters of jihad are not like this, and even if the players have some agility and nimbleness, they are not able to strive hard in any other field.
It also involves other things. Some of them offer prizes for it, and this is gambling. Islaam does not allow prizes for anything except competitions which support the religion and strengthen one for that. If it strengthens Islaam then it is permissible to engage in competitions. In the hadeeth it says:
“There should be no (money) prizes for competitions except archery competitions and races with camels and horses.”
And this applies by analogy with these three to anything that supports Islaam. [End quote. Q #1950]
As for one or two people playing with a ball in an unorganized fashion, there is nothing wrong with that, because it does not involve anything haraam. And Allaah knows best. [End quote. Q. #1949]